2017 has been an exciting and busy year for The BALSA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The BALSA Group! We selected 20 first-time entrepreneurs to receive the BALSA Grant of $1,000 plus mentorship, reviewed 130 Idea support applications, and the Entrepreneur’s roadmap was downloaded 400 times. For the first time ever we partnered with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership to award an additional $5,000 to a previous BALSA Grant recipient.
We had annual elections on September 18th and elected a new leadership team of officers and Directors - I’m delighted to be the third Executive Director of this organization! We also merged with the East St. Louis Initiative, a student run venture supporting small-scale businesses and entrepreneurs in East St. Louis. This new venture will allow us to work with underserved entrepreneurs in East St. Louis more effectively while providing targeted consulting services to past BALSA Grant finalists.
2018 promises to be even more exciting! We start the year with the 7th BALSA Grant, and are accepting applications January 1 - 15. The new leadership team will build on past success to improve our programs and provide support to underserved entrepreneurs in our region.
With best wishes for a safe, joyful and prosperous 2018--
Aziz Traore, Executive Director of The BALSA Foundation"